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AG Schmidt warns of hearing aid scams

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FILE(WNDU)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 12:50 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Attorney General Derek Schmidt is warning residents not to fall for scams that sell cheap hearing aids.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says hearing loss affects thousands of Kansans, and proper ones can be expensive. Unfortunately, he said many disreputable sellers try to sell discount devices to help with hearing loss, so it is important for Kansans to know their rights while shopping.

According to AG Schmidt, it starts with getting a proper diagnosis from a qualified hearing specialist who can decide if the hearing loss can be improved with the help of aids, or if there is a more serious medical condition that should be addressed by a doctor.

Schmidt said each person’s hearing loss is different. He said a hearing test from a qualified specialist can ensure residents get a device that fits their specific needs.

According to Schmidt, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed its restrictions on the sale of hearing aids in 2017. Since then, he said companies have started to sell so-called over-the-counter hearing aids, some of which can be purchased online from overseas sellers for as little as $2.50. Sadly, he said many of the products are of poor quality and not FDA-approved medical devices.

Schmidt said those who sell these products use traditional sales pitch tactics like offering deals for devices that are much less than what they would pay for traditional devices. He said these transactions often misrepresent FDA approvals for the product and promise money-back guarantees, which instead leave consumers unable to return the device and get their money back.

To avoid being duped by these offers, Schmidt offered the following tips:

  • Over-the-counter hearing aids are not regulated and may simply be sound amplifiers, which may be of poor quality and will not work with individuals with significant hearing loss.
  • Be skeptical of testimonials or good reviews from the company’s website. Check out the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org and other objective consumer review sites before purchasing. If a company has an F rating, something is wrong, and the buyers should beware.
  • Be a diligent shopper. Frequently you will find the same product at varying prices. Scrutinize the return/refund policy before you make your purchase. Be aware of the timeframes and conditions for refunds.
  • Consider getting a hearing screening and opinion from a hearing specialist who can tell you whether an over-the-counter device will work for you.

Schmidt said residents should ensure the person they purchase their hearing aids from is reputable. In Kansas, he said the Board of Examiners in the Fitting and Dispensing of Hearing Instruments was created in 1986 to ensure Kansans get competent and ethical hearing care.

If you think you may be the victim of a scam, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-432-2310.

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